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  1. ITV Report

Moscow accused of ‘playing dice’ with people’s lives in clashes over spy attack

Personnel in hazmat suits securing a tent covering a bench in the Maltings shopping centre in Salisbury (Andrew Matthews/PA) Photo: PA Wire/PA Images

Russia faced a fresh wave of international condemnation over the Salisbury spy poisoning as it claimed Britain was lying about the latest developments in the case.

Moscow was accused of “playing dice” with the lives of people living in the Wiltshire city by the UK during an emergency debate at the United Nations.

The US warned the world should be “chilled to the bone” by the developments set out in recent days.

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US President Donald Trump, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and Canadian PM Justin Trudeau earlier issued a joint statement with Theresa May agreeing with the British assessment that the operation was “almost certainly approved at a senior government level” in Moscow.

On Wednesday, two Russian nationals – Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov – said to be members of Russia’s military intelligence service the GRU, were identified as suspects by police investigating the poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal in March.

GCHQ head Jeremy Fleming warned that Russia poses an “active” threat during a speech in Washington.

He called on the international community to reject the Kremlin’s “brazen determination to undermine the international rules-based order”.

But Russia claimed the UK had been “mendacious” and was trying to unleash “disgusting anti-Russian hysteria” during talks at the United Nations.

Diplomat Vasily Nebenzya told the UN security council: “I’m not going to go through the list of this whole unfounded and mendacious cocktail of facts.

Alexander Petrov (left) and Ruslan Boshirov have been named as suspects Credit: Metropolitan Police/PA

“London needs this story for just one purpose – to unleash a disgusting anti-Russian hysteria and to involve other countries in this hysteria.”

Mr Skripal and his daughter Yulia were left critically ill after being exposed to the military grade nerve agent Novichok in Salisbury in March.

Detectives believe it is likely the two suspects, thought to be aged around 40, travelled under aliases and that Petrov and Boshirov are not their real names.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said on Friday it wants to identify and find the suspects involved in the poisoning of Mr Skripal and his daughter.

Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova claimed officials want to “find out who these people are” and called on the UK to share intelligence on them.

Officers have formally linked the attack on the Skripals to events in nearby Amesbury when Dawn Sturgess, 44, and her partner Charlie Rowley, 45, were exposed to the same nerve agent.

Ms Sturgess died in hospital in July, just over a week after the pair fell ill.

Dame Karen Pierce, the UK’s representative at the UN, said Russia had “played dice with the lives of the people of Salisbury”.

“We have clear evidence of Russian state involvement in what happened in Salisbury,” she told the meeting.